Much like he had done with the city's Christmas trees, Rahm Emanuel flipped the switch to light up a symbol of the holiday season Monday night in Daley Plaza -- a giant, white menorah.
Donning a black yamaka, Emanuel told the crowd "While we have many different faiths, while we may come from different backgrounds, we share one story." The ceremony was of special significance to Emanuel, Chicago's first Jewish mayor, who added, "while there's a Christmas tree and a menorah, there are many, many other faiths in the city."
Mayor Emanuel told CBS Chicago the event was not just a nod to his background -- Emanuel is the son and grandson of Jewish immigrants -- but that it spoke to the city's inclusiveness to all immigrants; Emanuel lit both the menorah and the city’s Christmas tree, which had a countdown partially in Spanish, said CBS.
Of Emanuel's participation in the ceremony, Rabbi Meir Chai Benhiyoun told the Tribune, “It’s more personal. It’s not business. It’s not politics. He wants to do it.”
The lighting happened on the third day of Hanukkah, which began at sundown on Saturday. The Tribune notes the city has issued permits this year for a variety of holiday displays in Daley Plaza that include secular and religious imagery, including a Santa house, a Nativity scene and the menorah.
Emanuel has flipped the switch in years past for the National Menorah Lighting in Washington, D.C when he served as the White House Chief of Staff. The Washington Post says the honor usually goes to a "prominent Jewish politician." This year, current White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew took up the mantle.